Photographic magnitude

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Before the advent of photometers which accurately measure the brightness of astronomical objects, the apparent magnitude of an object was obtained by taking a picture of it with a camera. These images, made on orthochromatic photoemulsive film or plates, were more sensitive to the blue end of the visual spectrum than the human eye or modern photometers. As a result, bluer stars have a lower (i.e. brighter) photographic magnitude than their modern visual magnitude, because they appear brighter on the photograph than they do to modern photometers. Conversely, redder stars have a higher (i.e. fainter) photographic magnitude than visual magnitude, because they appear dimmer. For example, the red supergiant star KW Sagittarii has a photographic magnitude of 11.0 to 13.2 but a visual magnitude of about 8.5 to 11. It is also common for star charts to list a blue magnitude (B) such as with S Doradus and WZ Sagittae.

The symbol for apparent photographic magnitude is mpg and the symbol for absolute photographic magnitude is Mpg.[1]

The photographic magnitude scale is now considered obsolete.[clarification needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Norton, Arthur P. (1973). Norton's Star Atlas. p. 29. ISBN 0-85248-900-5. apparent photographic magnitude